Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

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Expert advice on the symptoms and treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) generally refers to one of two long-term inflammatory conditions:

  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease affect over 300,000 people in the UK.

Key facts about IBD:

  • Diagnosis is most common in young people between age 15 and 30
  • It can affect people of any age though
  • There is an estimated 5 million people worldwide suffering with IBD
  • Genetics and a poor immune system are thought to play a part in the cause
  • Environmental issues such as where you live and if you are a smoker can have an effect
  • The exact cause for this condition is not yet fully understood though
  • Diet and stress are thought to aggravate IBD, but not cause it
  • Diagnosis is essential to determine the exact location of the inflammation

  • There is no cure for IBD, however symptoms can be treated
  • Failure to diagnose and treat IBD can lead to an increased risk of bowel cancer
  • Two thirds of patients with Crohn’s disease require at least one surgery
  • Early diagnosis helps with treatment

As with many bowel disorders, there are many people suffering in silence, afraid or embarrassed to seek help. Remember, you are not alone.

Symptoms of IBD

Symptoms of IBD vary case to case, but those that could relate to either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • A mild fever
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Blood or mucus in stools
  • Reduced appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss

As is the nature of gastroenterological conditions, these symptoms could also relate to other digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Specialist diagnosis is vital to ensure you can get the correct treatment to help you better manage your symptoms.

Symptoms of colitis

Ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and the type of colitis predominantly links to the location of the inflammation.

Ulcerative proctitis

Ulcerative proctitis is located at the end of the colon closest to the anus (+)

  • This is considered the mildest form of colitis
  • Rectal bleeding is the most common symptom
Proctosigmviditis

Proctosigmviditis affects the lower end of the colon and the rectum

  • It can cause abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea
  • Or, “tenesumus”, which is a specific type of constipation
Left-sided colitis

Left-sided colitis causes the inflammation to descend through the colon from the rectum

  • Symptoms include abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhoea as well as pain of the left side of the body.
  • Weight loss may also be apparent.
Pancolitis

Pancolitis may affect the entire colon and symptoms can be severe

  • Bouts of bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and significant weight loss are common.
Acute severe ulcerative colitis

Acute severe ulcerative colitis affects the whole length of the colon

  • It is rare but the most serious form of colitis.
  • Symptoms include severe pain, frequent diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, fever and lack of appetite.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive system, unlike colitis. However, it most commonly affects the last part of the small intestine, called the ileum, or the large intestine, also known as the colon.

The inflammation can cause the skin around the anus to become sore and itchy and scarring inside the colon can cause a narrowing of the pathway, a condition known as fibrostenosis, which when severe can lead to blockages.

Treatment for IBD

There is no cure for IBD, but treatment is available to help ease the symptoms. Adapting diet and lifestyle may also help in the first instance, particularly for cases where the symptoms are mild.

Medicines can be prescribed to treat both Crohn’s disease and colitis, although around 20% of people taking medication report it doesn’t help.

Colorectal surgery is therefore the only option, to remove the part of the colon that is inflamed.

Surgery is necessary for between 60 and 75 percent of Crohn’s disease sufferers, where the damaged digestive system can be repaired or removed.

Read the latest news regarding IBD

diagnosis

Book to see a specialist

For many years patients have been coming to Dr Anton Bungay for expert advice regarding the prevention and treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease:

  • Diagnosis of ulcerative colitis
  • Diagnosis of Crohn’s disease
  • Treatment of IBD symptoms
  • Advice on digestive health

Feel reassured that you are not alone and that specialist help is available.